The Evolution of Fracture Surface Roughness and its Dependence on Slip [article]

(:Unkn) Unknown, Nicholas Davatzes, University, My
2020
Under effective compression, impingement of opposing rough surfaces of a fracture can force the walls of the fracture apart during slip. Therefore, a fracture's surface roughness exerts a primary control on the amount of dilation that can be sustained on a fracture since the opposing surfaces need to remain in contact. Previous work has attempted to characterize fracture surface roughness through topographic profiles and power spectral density analysis, but these metrics describing the geometry
more » ... ribing the geometry of a fracture's surface are often non-unique when used independently. However, when combined these metrics are affective at characterizing fracture surface roughness, as well as the mechanisms affecting changes in roughness with increasing slip, and therefore changes in dilation. These mechanisms include the influence of primary grains and pores on initial fracture roughness, the effect of linkage on locally increasing roughness, and asperity destruction that limits the heights of asperities and forms gouge. This analysis reveals four essential stages of dilation during the lifecycle of a natural fracture, whereas previous slip-dilation models do not adequately address the evolution of fracture surface roughness: (1) initial slip companied by small dilation is mediated by roughness controlled by the primary grain and pore dimensions; (2) rapid dilation during and immediately following fracture growth by linkage of formerly isolated fractures; (3) wear of the fracture surface and gouge formation that minimizes dilation; and (4) between slip events cementation that modifies the mineral constituents in the fracture. By identifying these fundamental mechanisms that influence fracture surface roughness, this new conceptual model relating dilation to slip has specific applications to Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS), which attempt to produce long-lived dilation in natural fractures by inducing slip.
doi:10.34944/dspace/4008 fatcat:rvuxrjtphnbxjcyrxdrwwlmud4